Yelp recently announced that it will be more aggressively enforcing its “Don’t Ask” policy, penalizing companies that show signs of “organized review solicitation.” Specifically, companies that Yelp believes to be actively soliciting reviews are now at risk of having their pages demoted in the platform’s search results as well as having a “Consumer Alert” warning placed on their Yelp business page.
A Yelp spokesperson explained the company’s reasoning for its “Don’t Ask” policy stating, “A business is more likely to ask their satisfied customers to write reviews, and when businesses heavily solicit or offer freebies or discounts in exchange for reviews, that puts other businesses that play by the rules at a disadvantage.”
Whether or not Yelp’s policy is a sound business decision is yet to be seen. In the meantime, business owners need to figure out their next move. If you’re working on your own to collect more reviews from your customers, it may be time to audit your approach. If you’re using any practices that Yelp might qualify as “review solicitation,” you may want to eliminate them now.
4 Tips to Avoid Hurting Your Yelp Rating
- Don’t ask customers, mailing list subscribers, friends, family, or anyone else to review your business.
- Don’t ask your staff to compete to collect reviews.
- Don’t run surveys that ask for reviews from customers reporting positive experiences.
- Don’t ever offer freebies, discounts, or payment in exchange for reviews — it will turn off savvy consumers and may also be illegal. Yelp has a Consumer Alerts program to let people know about businesses that engage in this sort of activity.
Additionally, while The Web Guys completely disagrees with Yelp’s reviews solicitation policy and hopes that they revise any policy that undermines your ability to collect and publish reviews from your customers, we have removed all Yelp review buttons previously displayed on your site. These measures ensure your Yelp listing will remain on its platform without penalty.
What’s the Right Way to “Ask” for Reviews?
So how can you indirectly ask for reviews in a way that aligns with Yelp’s policy? According to Forbes.com, “One way is to promote Yelp with stickers and collateral (which Yelp will give you free), and make ongoing references to your presence on Yelp and other review sites—rather than specifically incentivizing or asking for reviews. It’s an indirect method, so it’s going to be slower and less effective, but it’s the safest, long-term strategy you can employ.”
Remember that Yelp isn’t the only review platform out there! Sites like Google, Facebook, and the BBB all contribute to a strong online reputation, so take some time to focus your review strategy on different platforms. Your best bet to get high-quality and unbiased reviews about your business is to provide a memorable and amazing customer experience!